The end at last: Burda 119 10/2012

This is the very last item in my current wardrobe sewing plan, and now I think I’m done with sewing with a plan for a while. It’s Burda 119 10/2012, a close fitting v necked long sleeved top. I chose it because I thought having a layer to go under the summery v necked short sleeved dress might make it wearable into the autumn. I also thought the top might be wearable with jeans. In these photos I’m wearing it with my straight legged black denim trousers from the plan.

Here’s the line art. It’s a very low cut design which means the neckline doesn’t show when worn under the dress. Despite this it stays in place beautifully – no worries about bending forward. The fabric probably helps. It’s John Kaldor Isabella wool/elastane jersey in charcoal. Super stretchy and quite warm, highly recommended. I got mine from Sew Essential but I’ve seen other fabric shops stock it.

Burda 119 10/2012 line art, burdastyle.ru

I made a right mess of tracing and cutting this one. I somehow missed adding the placement marks for the front pieces and ended up guessing where to attach them, getting it completely wrong, and then having to rip out overlocked seams in black thread on black fabric. I also got immensely confused as to which side of the front wrap goes on top. The two fronts are not mirror images – the side that goes underneath isn’t full length. I cut out the larger, top, piece first, suddenly thought that I’d done it the wrong side up, hacked it down to be the under piece and then realised I had been right the first time. I didn’t want to waste fabric by cutting new front pieces so my shirt ended up with the right front on top although Burda’s has the opposite. What threw me is that women’s clothes normally close right over left.

There’s not a lot to see on the back view, but I do like Burda’s technique for the back neckline. It’s finished with a narrow stretch binding strip turned to the inside and top-stitched down, which is something I often see in ready to wear. I’m less keen on the hems. The hem allowance given for the sleeves is 6cm, which was impossible to sew with the machine – I couldn’t reach inside the very narrow sleeve far enough to sew close to the edge without the whole thing getting caught up around the presser foot. I ended up trimming the sleeve hem allowance back quite a bit to avoid hand hemming. I’m not sure what the function of such a deep hem was; I don’t feel like I’m missing anything.

While I doubt I’ll wear this on its own much – I don’t want to blind people with the glare from my pasty chest skin – I think it’ll be a useful under layer. But now I’m off to sew less practical and more fun things for a while. Thanks to my husband for taking the photos!

Change of direction

For about the last year I’ve been steadily sewing through a couple of wardrobe plans, with a bunch of pieces designed to mix and match. I rarely wear colour so I’ve been sticking to black, grey, and white so everything goes with everything. A couple of weeks ago I finished the last piece, a fairly plain black v neck top – photos to come – and started thinking about what to do next.

While I’ve made some pieces I really love from the wardrobe plans, the whole mix and match thing isn’t working as well as I expected. I don’t mix my separates up much: for each bottom I know the top that goes with it best, and rarely pair it with anything else. But it is nice not to have wardrobe orphans, so perhaps the solution is to sew outfits rather than whole wardrobes. And that has the advantage that it’s slightly easier to add a bit of colour…and after a year of grey even I’m ready to introduce some variation.

I cautiously set out with Vogue 1567, a Paco Peralta design which comprises a boat neck knit top and a dramatic skirt.

Vogue 1567 line art: a dolman sleeved top and draped skirt

Here’s the result. Dress form photos only because I haven’t had a chance to do modelled ones, but I’m really excited to wear this.

A dressform wearing a blue and black striped top and a long black skirt stands in front of a bookcase

Admittedly the skirt’s black. This is because it’s a huge fabric hog and I already had a suitable length of black poplin in my stash, but I haven’t made a coloured top for…well, I can’t actually remember.

I’m also planning a yellow dress, a green jacket, bright blue trousers. There’s a bit of white in the scheme too because it’s bright. I’m not going too overboard: the blue and green fabrics have been lurking in my stash for years.

Blue, yellow, green and white fabrics on a grey tile floor

We’ll see how long this lasts.

The refinement process

One of my favourite designers is Rick Owens. Unfortunately pieces of his post-apocalyptic vision are seriously expensive to buy, and even the more basic and wearable designs are pricey. One of these basics is a skinny wool knit t shirt with an exposed back seam, a deeply curved raw hem, and extra long sleeves. I made a knockoff of it a couple of years ago and have worn it so much it’s now starting to look a little sad. Here it is when it was just made.

The neckband has stretched and gone wavy since then. I made it too long right from the start and only aggressive steam pressing ever made it sit flat. I’ve also never been 100% happy with the shape of the hem; it’s a little too long. So this is version two, made out of the same John Kaldor Isabella wool jersey as the first one, with a shorter neckband and reshaped hem.

Weirdly it seems to fit better too, but I think that’s because I’ve changed shape rather than any improvement I made to the pattern.

I only made it a couple of weeks ago and have worn it four or five times already so this is a definite win! Thanks to my husband for the photos as always.

Closet Core Patterns Blanca Flight Suit modelled photos

A woman in a black jumpsuit and yellow trainers leans against a bench

I posted about this jumpsuit last week but now I have photos of it on me, thanks to my husband, and it’s always easier to talk about fit when there are pictures to look at. This is Closet Core Patterns’ Blanca Flight Suit. I normally stick to Burda and Vogue patterns, with occasional diversions to Style Arc, but I had a clear idea of the sort of jumpsuit I wanted to make and even with ten years of Burda back issues I couldn’t find one with all the right details. Blanca had everything I was looking for, so I decided to risk an unfamiliar block and sizing system, and sprung for the paper pattern. Here’s the line art:

Technical drawing of a  jumpsuit  with various sleeve and arm options
Blanca flight suit line art, closetcorepatterns.com

It comes with several options to change the look up a bit, although nothing radical: short or long sleeves, two belt versions, two breast pocket versions, optional tabs for tapering the leg and optional press studs for tapering the arm. I added the optional tabs and press studs on mine and did the breast pockets with zips, the buckle belt, and the long sleeve. A jumpsuit is a big project so I wanted to be able to wear it a few different ways. Below is with wide sleeves and trouser legs.

A woman in a black jumpsuit and yellow trainers sits on a bench

I think one of the cleverest features about this is the back. There are top stitched pleats to give a little interest and extra reaching room. And it does need it: this is designed to be fairly snug, especially on the hips. (Excuse the keys in the pockets in the picture below).

Now obviously it would have been sensible to make a toile before diving into a big project with a pattern company I’d not tried before, especially as they have their own sizing system. But my sewing time is limited, so instead I carefully consulted the very detailed table of finished garment measurements provided to choose a size and decide on adjustments.

I ended up making the sizes my body measurements put me in (sizes plural because I am more pear shaped than the Closet Core block) but that was because my fabric is slightly stretchy; it’s Empress Mills’ 7.5oz premium denim. I added 5cm length to the bodice and sleeves, and 6cm to the leg. The body length has come out fine overall but the waistband is lower than I expected; definitely below my natural waist. And I wouldn’t want the legs any shorter.

I was slightly surprised by quite how close fitting it turned out. I knew there wasn’t any ease at the hip, but from reviews I’d read I’d expected the bodice to be more blousey. It’s not a bad thing, but I’m still debating if I can safely wear it to work. And if I made this again in a nonstretch fabric I’d size up one. As it is, it requires a slight wriggle to get on but once there it’s comfortable.

Here it is with tapered arms and legs. I wasn’t expecting to like this look as much as the wider option but in fact I think it works.

Despite the sizing surprise I’m very happy with the way it’s come out. I even found myself browsing the Empress Mills denim section to see if any of the other colours the fabric comes in caught my eye for a second version. But as I’m still slogging my way through my wardrobe sewing plan, that’s going to have to wait a while.

All the hardware: Closet Core Blanca flight suit

This is the Blanca flight suit from Closet Core Patterns. It wasn’t on my original wardrobe sewing plan, but it fits in well with the other pieces. And I wanted a project that would make use of one of my birthday presents: a hand press. This gadget makes installing press studs (or rivets, or grommets) absolutely painless. Each type of hardware needs a different set of dies which screw into the press, but once they’re on, installing hardware takes seconds and requires very little strength. No more loud hammering noises, and it sets the studs perfectly straight every time. The only problem is that it’s so simple it’s all too easy to get overconfident and install a press stud on the wrong side of the garment. Luckily there were no disasters on this project.

Blanca has press studs on the sleeves which can be used to turn the wide sleeve into a tapered one.

And tabs on the ankles which can be used to taper the leg. The pattern calls for buttonholes and buttons here but I wanted to keep things consistent, so more press studs.

It’s a very well thought out pattern with a lot of options. I went for all the bling with the zipped breast pockets and the buckle belt.

I struggled a bit with the zips on the pockets and my topstitching is distinctly wobbly. I probably would have done better with lighter weight zips. But these were a good match for the teeth on the centre front zip.

It took me a lot of searching to find the buckle. Once I figured out the right search term (surcingle, if like me you didn’t know) they’re plentiful on eBay. They seem to mainly be used for horse blankets of all things.

I was complaining about my inability to sew good belt loops the other week. These ones aren’t bad. I made them as flat as I could with the folding in three method, and kept the turn under short. I didn’t hammer them but pressed them as hard as I could before sewing them on. Still not perfect, but better than the last lot.

There’s just one thing I’d like to change about the pattern, but I’m not sure how. The underlap for the front zip has an overlocked edge that’s visible when the collar is open. That edge needs to be pretty flat so replacing it with another seam wouldn’t be great. Perhaps bias binding on the edge?

Modelled photos coming soon I hope.

Two down, seven to go

We finally managed to get some photos of my new Burda jacket on me – thanks as always to my husband for taking the photos. I’m still figuring out how to best style it. I made it as part of a wardrobe plan, but it is only the second piece I’ve completed. The dresses and trousers I intend to go underneath currently exist only in my head. But here it is with the pleather leggings from the plan. The jacket itself is Burda 105 02/2021.

This is not a garment I reach for first thing in the morning. It comes into its own when I’ve started work for the day and realise it’s a bit chilly in the attic. It goes over almost anything and the short sleeves are surprisingly practical. I don’t suppose I’ll be wearing it in the depth of winter, although I could see the style working in a heavy wool as a wearable blanket.

Here’s the Burda line art. I always like it when people show the pattern designer’s version when I’m reading a review of a pattern, as sometimes the finished object comes out very different from how you’d expect. This one is perfectly accurate though. I chose to really play up the top stitching on my version with light grey thread. It’s mostly straight lines but even so I did have to unpick a few times because there’s no hiding a wobble with this colour.

Burda 105 02/2021 line art, burdastyle.ru

I still don’t think I’ve cracked styling this. Hopefully when I complete the rest of the plan (around Christmas, at the rate I sew) I’ll have more options.

Neither one thing nor the other: Burda 105 02/2021

Is it a coat? Is it a cardigan? Is it a jacket? Burda calls it a coat, but in my book a coat has to have full length sleeves and close at the front. Cardigans are usually knitted and this is made of denim. And it lacks the structure of the typical jacket. Whatever it is, it’s style 105 from the February 2021 Burda.

I normally let Burda magazines mature in my pattern stash until they’re a few years old before I make anything from them. But February 2021 had not one but two patterns which leapt straight into my latest wardrobe sewing plans and this is the first of them. I was looking for an indoor garment to layer over the top of an outfit for extra warmth. I don’t get on with most cardigans and this seemed like a promising alternative. It’s a simple sew: fairly square cut, unlined, with patch pockets and no closures.

Burda 105 02/2021 line art, burdastyle.ru

Here’s the back view. One rather odd thing about the design is that there’s no continuity of the lines between the front, back, and sleeves. Those bold diagonal seams on the front come to a dead stop at the side seams. The topstitching on the yoke hits the sleeve seam and vanishes into it. I can almost hear Esme from the Great British Sewing Bee tutting that it hasn’t been very well thought through. It would be easy enough to add diagonal seams to the back to marry it with the front, but I’m not so sure what to do about the sleeves. More top stitching on the sleeve seam perhaps? The pattern called for one line there, but it also has you set the sleeves in so I skipped it, not wanting to do it in the round. If I made this one again I’d put the sleeves in flat.

A change I did make to this version was to add a hanging loop and change the neckline seam finish. There is no neckline facing piece (probably because it would be too bulky on top of the double layer yoke) and the pattern has you sew both layers of the the collar on to the neckline and press the allowances down, leaving a visible seam allowance around the neck. Instead I clipped the allowances at the point where the facing attaches, sewed on just the outer collar between those points, and pressed them up so the inner collar hides them. The top stitching around the collar holds it in place.

This worked beautifully on one side…

And I ended up with a mess on the other. I don’t think I clipped far enough. It’s not visible when wearing, obviously, but it’s annoying.

The pockets on this thing are huge. I have long arms and I can only just reach the bottom. It’s a Tall sized pattern so perhaps that’s not so surprising, but definitely something to check before stitching them down.

When I finished this I was vaguely disappointed. It seemed to lack the style factor of Burda’s version. But I’ve worn it a few times already, mainly when feeling cold indoors, and it grew on me. I suspect it works best paired with a dress, and I don’t often wear one of those. Hopefully I’ll get some modelled photos of it soon for comparison.

Vogue 1378 Vogue Donna Karan pieced leggings

These leggings are from Vogue 1378, an old favourite pattern now sadly out of print. I don’t wear a lot of colour or print so I like clothes with seam line interest. But I find a lot of the patterns with extra seams have them placed in a less than flattering way. Not these though. The original pattern is strictly speaking for close fitting trousers rather than leggings, as they’re loose from the calf to the hem and have an ankle vent. But it’s very easy to sew the vent shut and tighten them up by taking in the inseam.

I made these as part of a wardrobe plan; they’re supposed to go under a couple of the dresses. I’m firmly in the Leggings Are Not Trousers camp where my own person is concerned, so no outfit photos of these until I have made at least one new dress to go with them.

Vogue 1378 technical drawing, originally from mccalls.com

They’re designed to be made in a knit, but the construction isn’t the normal overlocked seams. Most of the seams are lapped and top stitched with two rows of a long straight stitch, and then the outside seam allowance is trimmed down close to the stitching. This means the fabric can’t be too stretchy or the seams will break.

I’ve previously made these in thin neoprene, which worked very well, and scuba knit, which wasn’t as robust. This pair are in a thick coated knit that’s meant to look like leather. It came from Tia Knight a few years ago now. It’s super sticky on the coated side so it’s quite difficult to top stitch. A Teflon foot was no good at all. The roller foot worked with my machine set on the maximum stitch length only, and still produced tiny stitches. The walking foot was the only one that produced a decent medium length stitch and even then it isn’t all even, especially on the waist elastic.

The back thigh seam isn’t overlapped. That’s what the pattern says to do, and I have always assumed there is a reason for it. It’s certainly a handy indication as to which way round to put them on.

A closeup of all that lapping and top stitching. I’m quite pleased with the even spacing.

And the waist, with the not so even zigzag top stitching to hold the elastic down. The good thing is that this will never be visible while I’m wearing them.

Although I’ve made these before it was a while ago, and I’d forgotten that the waist is a little low and they’re very long in the leg. This isn’t normally a problem for me with Vogue Patterns so perhaps I added too much extra length when I originally traced them. I ended up shortening this pair by something like 8cm. There’s not a lot I can do about the waist this time, but it’ll never be seen.

Although I’ve not made the dresses I had planned to go with these, they have been getting some wear under my grey Style Arc Toni dress. They’re pretty good for the sunny but cool weather we’re getting in the UK at the moment. This is a pattern I will definitely hang onto.

The end at last: Burda 113 2/2010 blouse

A woman in a black blouse and black jeans

Here it is, the very last item in my original wardrobe sewing plan. This blouse is Burda 113 2/2010. It’s a replacement for Vogue 9299, which was my original choice for a black blouse. I had fit problems with the Vogue and I don’t wear it much. I’m hoping this one will be more of a wardrobe staple.

Here’s the technical drawing. I normally find Burda’s line art very accurate, but I’m not convinced this one gives a good idea of the finished garment. The blouse in the line art looks a lot more boxy and the exaggerated collar and cuffs don’t come across. I like my version, but it isn’t quite what I was expecting to end up with.

Technical drawing of Burda 113 2/2010, burdastyle.ru

I did make a few alterations to the pattern: I added my normal amount of length and did a broad and square shoulder adjustment. This had the handy side effect of removing all the ease from the armscye seam. My books say I’m supposed to add it back by making the sleeve cap higher, but I dislike easing sleeves so I didn’t. My arm mobility is still fine. Admittedly I probably overdid the shoulder adjustments and the shoulders have ended up a bit exaggerated, but I like that look, so win-win. I also did a concealed button placket and added a yoke.

The fabric is a polycotton poplin from Minerva Crafts. I was deliberately looking for a polycotton blend for the crease resistance; as it’s black I don’t have to worry about it discolouring.

The buttons are old ones from my button box. This blouse uses a lot – thirteen in all. Amazingly I managed to find a set of thirteen that matched before I started sewing. As I knew I definitely had enough buttons I sewed the buttonholes and added the buttons on the collar stand which I wouldn’t normally bother with. Then when I came to deal with the cuffs I realised a button had gone missing at some point, probably when testing buttonhole sizing. And just before we took these pictures I found another one had dropped off the blouse and had to replace it with a slightly different one, so my matched set is now two down.

Back view of a woman wearing a black blouse and jeans

The cuffs are pretty dramatic with those points. They are the style that needs cuff links – the buttons are just joined in pairs to make links – so I could always get proper cuff links and use a cuff button to replace the odd one out on the placket.

I added a yoke to the design because I like having the extra structure that comes from the double layer at the upper back. Then I had a moment of doubt: all the shirts in the house with yokes have back pleats, not darts. Maybe having a yoke and darts is some kind of offence against traditional shirt styling. Too late now anyway.

There’s an interesting little detail in this pattern that isn’t visible in Burda’s images: a small triangular gusset in the side seam where it runs into the curved hem. Not a lot of trouble to sew and reinforces a stress point.

The side seam of a shirt with a gusset

I’m wearing it with my flared jeans from the plan here for a slightly 70s look, but of course there are several other combinations. My husband has been patiently photographing the various outfits from the sewing plan so I’ve got some more blog posts planned on how well it all works together.

However considered on its own I think this is a success: the basic shape is good and the slightly exaggerated details add a bit of interest. I’ve never been much good at accessorising so it helps if clothes have interesting features.

Thanks to my husband for taking the photos.

A woman wearing a black blouse and jeans standing in front of a green door

Burda 112 11/2015 sweater

A woman in a black sweater made from Burda 112 11/2015

I’m on the home stretch now. This is the penultimate garment in my vague wardrobe sewing plan, Burda 112 11/2015. It’s a close-fitting sweater with French darts and a fairly cropped length. Here’s the line art, strangely with one arm cut off.

Technical drawing for Burda 112 11/2015 sweater, burdastyle.ru

This is the ‘extra pattern in pink’ for the 11/2015 issue of Burda. There are detailed illustrated instructions and the pattern pieces are supposed to be extra easy to trace: they’re shaded to make them easy to find and they don’t overlap. And it’s a simple pattern to start with: only five pieces. Should have been straightforward, right? Wrong. Perhaps I have developed the Burda version of Stockholm Syndrome, but I had more problems with the easy to trace pink pattern pieces than I do with the regular ones. Having the pieces not overlap meant I had two giant pattern sheets to iron and wrestle with instead of one, and somehow I managed to trace the wrong hemline on the front piece despite the shading. I didn’t discover that mistake until after I’d cut out the fabric, and had to hastily make a hem facing from the leftovers, or this would have been a very cropped sweater indeed. I normally take care to check patterns after I trace them but I must have skipped that step this time.

The pattern is designed for fulled loden fabric, which doesn’t fray at all. No seams to finish! Mine’s made up in a gorgeous wool/polyester blend sweater knit from Minerva Crafts. Now I look at the website again I think I used the official ‘wrong side’ of the fabric as my right side. It has a smooth side where you can see the knit stitches, and a brushed side which looks like fleece. I didn’t want a fluffy jumper so I used the smooth side.

Like fulled loden this fabric doesn’t fray, but I suspect it’s stretchier. It sewed up very nicely on my regular sewing machine with a 90 ballpoint needle and a slight zigzag stitch. I didn’t use the overlocker at all. I hemmed it and caught down the neck facing using the sewing machine stretch blind hem stitch; it’s such thick fabric it was very quick and easy to do.

Here’s the back view. That centre back seam provides a lot of the shaping.

Back view of a woman wearing a black sweater

I had a bit of trouble with the hem flaring out. Maybe I stretched it out when sewing on the facing or perhaps it was a side effect of whatever went wrong with my tracing, but I had to unpick and take the bottom in a lot at both the side and back seams. Otherwise the fit is great. This is my usual Burda size and the only pattern adjustment I made was adding my usual extra 5cm length. I did debate going down a size because of the extra stretch in the fabric, but I’m glad I didn’t.

I think I’m going to be wearing this a lot. Thanks to my husband for the pictures as usual.

A woman in a black sweater and black cocoon trousers